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Originally published: 2012-06-06 16:01:02
Last modified: 2012-06-06 16:15:53

ASU volleyball releases schedule

by Staff Reports

Appalachian State volleyball head coach Matt Ginipro announced his team's schedule for the upcoming 2012 season on Wednesday. The Mountaineers will play a total of 30 matches during the regular season with nine at home and 21 road/neutral site contests.

The Mountaineers, who finished second in the Southern Conference North Division a year ago and advanced to the league semifinals, will face a difficult slate of top-notch opponents including two conference champions and three NCAA Tournament participants.

“We are excited to get the 2012 season started up,” Ginipro said. “There aren't as many home matches on our schedule this year due to the lack of a home tournament, but we have a challenging non-conference schedule that will get us prepared for another tough year in the SoCon. We are going to be a very young team this year, but we still wanted to play a schedule that still pushed us towards a conference championship.”

Coming off a season in which it went 21-11 and 12-4 in SoCon play, Appalachian will begin the season with three of its biggest matches at the James Madison Days Inn Invitational in Harrisonburg, Va. from Aug. 24-25.

The 2012 campaign begins with a match against James Madison on Aug. 24. The Dukes finished last season with a 20-11 record and a fourth-place finish in the Colonial Athletic Association.

ASU's opening weekend will continue with matches against Seton Hall and Minnesota on Aug. 25 to wrap up the invitational. The Pirates tied for fourth in the Big East last season while the Golden Gophers went 20-12 last year and advanced to the second round of the 2011 NCAA Volleyball Tournament to end the season ranked No. 15 in the nation.

A midweek road contest against 2011 Big South co-champion Winthrop will take place on Aug. 28. The Eagles finished with a 20-8 record a year ago.

The Mountaineers will hit the road again the following weekend with a pair of matches against defending Atlantic Sun champion Lipscomb and Conference USA foe Houston at the Lipscomb Invitational before wrapping up the weekend against Missouri, which posted a 21-13 record last season to earn an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament.

A string of three more road matches awaits at the VCU Invitational from Sept. 7-8 as the Mountaineers will take on Georgetown on Sept. 7 before matches with VCU and Virginia to round out the weekend.

The early-season string of 13-straight matches away from the High Country finishes with three matches at the Wake Forest Black and Gold Challenge Sept. 14-15. The Apps will take on Campbell in first-day action before finishing with contests against Toledo and Wake Forest.

Appalachian plays its first home match of the season and wraps up non-conference play when it welcomes North Carolina A&T to the Holmes Center at 7 p.m. on Sept. 18. The Mountaineers' 2012 non-conference opponents combined for 212 wins last season as five teams won 20 or more matches.

Southern Conference play starts with road matches at Chattanooga (Sept. 21) and defending SoCon champion Samford (Sept. 22). ASU plays host to Elon (Sept. 29) and UNCG (Sept. 30) in its first conference home matches of the season.

A midweek road contest with archrival Western Carolina is slated for Oct. 4 before the Apps return to Boone against Georgia Southern (Oct. 6). A two-match road trip to South Carolina follows with matches at Wofford (Oct. 12) and Furman (Oct. 13).

College of Charleston and The Citadel will make their way to the Holmes Center on Oct. 19 and 20, respectively, before the Mountaineers make return trips to Elon (Oct. 26) and UNCG (Oct. 27).

Appalachian State will play three of its final four matches at home beginning with a contest against Western Carolina on Nov. 1 before a quick trip to Davidson on Nov. 3. The regular season concludes with home matches against Chattanooga (Nov. 10) and Samford (Nov. 11).

“The SoCon gets better and better each year,” Ginipro said. “To win a title, you have to know what it's like to face challenges and how to fight through them. Our non-conference slate will put us through that in every match we play and that will make us a better team going into the conference season.

The 2012 SoCon Volleyball Championship takes place in Davidson Nov. 16-19 where the top four teams in each division will vie for the league title and an automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Volleyball Tournament.